Mass graves containing the remains of 5,000 to 8,000 people killed in the 1930s during Stalinist purges have been found in Odessa, in southern Ukraine.
To date, 29 pits have been located on a land of almost five hectares located near the airport, said Wednesday Sergui Goutsaliouk, head of the regional branch of the Institute of National Memory. But this number could increase further, as operations are still ongoing.
Killed by the NKVD, the ancestor of the KGB
The remains were discovered after city officials ordered exploratory excavations to authorize works to expand the airport. Mass graves had already been unearthed in 1943 and 2008 in this area and nearly 1,600 remains had been exhumed.
According to Sergui Goutsaliouk, the victims, residents of the region, were mostly killed with a bullet in the back of the neck by the NKVD, the Soviet secret police and ancestor of the KGB. These executions date back to the years 1937-1939, during the Stalinist “Great Terror”.
Identification of victims impossible?
According to the official, it will not be possible to identify the victims, the documents on these purges being classified secret and kept in Moscow, “which will not give them” to Ukraine because of the tense relations between the two countries. .
According to estimates by historians, several hundred thousand Ukrainians were executed or imprisoned in Gulag camps during the Stalinist purges in the 1930s. One of the best known execution sites is the forest near the village of Bykivnia, on the outskirts of Kiev, where tens of thousands of victims were buried in the years 1937-1941. Millions of Ukrainians also died during the great famine of 1932-1933, according to Ukraine a “genocide” orchestrated by Stalin to suppress any nationalist and independence movement.